How are natural gas pipelines made?
From its 140,000-square-foot property in west Tulsa, Big Elk Energy Systems builds equipment for the transaction and transfer of natural gas.
Geoff Hager, CEO of Big Elk Energy Systems
Uphill climb: Success despite economic downturn
CEO Geoff Hager founded Big Elk Energy Systems in 2014, just before a drop in oil prices shook the energy industry. “We shouldn’t have made it,” Hager says. At press time, the company was on track to reach over $30 million in revenue in 2018. Hager attributes the company’s success to God and to Big Elk’s investors, who were willing to take a risk on Hager.
Keeping track: What's a custody transfer meter?
Hager likens the custody transfer meters Big Elk builds for natural gas measurement to gas meters on the side of homes. “That gray box serves as a cash register between you and the utility company,” he says. “But there is about $3 to $5 a day of energy being tracked through a residential meter. These meters track half-a-million to several million dollars a day worth of natural gas. There’s a lot riding on the accuracy of our cash registers.”
Safety first: Big Elk's small but might contribution to oil
Although 80-90 percent of its business is making equipment for the natural gas industry, Big Elk also makes large-scale equipment for the oil industry, including a mainline valve setting which can operate as a “quick-release valve” for the rare occasion a pipeline has a blowout.
Doing it differently: No sandblasting allowed
When it comes to painting the products it manufactures, Big Elk does so in its indoor blasting and coating facility, which Hager says is rare in the industry. This capability provides the company considerably faster turnaround time since weather is not a factor.
Instead of sand blasting, the company uses steel grit to prepare pieces for paint. Hager says sand contains silica, which is harmful to workers if inhaled.
Grow, grow, grow: Meet the Big Elk workforce
Big Elk has just over 100 employees, most of whom are welders. In 2018, Inc. magazine named Big Elk the fastest-growing company in Oklahoma. Forbes magazine named it the No. 1 manufacturing company in America in 2018. Most of its business is domestic, but Hager says, “International growth is at the top of our priority list. Latin America is our first target.”
He says the company also will enter the service business in 2019 by rolling out a patented method of natural gas measurement called M3, which stands for Mobile Master Meter.